And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…
As Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. Jesus was an example of love in his life, for he went about every day doing good (Acts 10:38). But it is to his suffering of death that the apostle points us for the most sublime and impressive illustration of his love. The words suggest many pregnant thoughts.
I. WHO OFFERED HIMSELF? It was Christ, the only begotten Son of God. It was his own voluntary act. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). "Who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). It was love that prompted the gift of himself - eternal, infinite, free.
II. WHAT DID HE OFFER? Himself. Not the blood of others, much less the blood of bulls and goats. It was the offering of the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:10).
III. FOR WHOM? For us, while we were yet enemies (Romans 5:10). Whether he died in our stead or merely for our benefit is determined by the context, which represents him as giving himself "an offering and a sacrifice." This language marks the distinctly substitutionary character of Christ's death, just as he is himself described elsewhere as "a ransom for many."
IV. TO WHOM DID HE OFFER HIMSELF? To God. That is, with the design that God might accept the sacrifice. God had pleasure in the death and atonement of his Son.
V. IN WHAT MANNER? "As an offering and a sacrifice." The term "offering" applies to propitiatory sacrifices, as well as to free-will offerings (Hebrews 10:18, 14). The additional word, "sacrifice," marks the clearly propitiatory character of his offering (Hebrews 7:27).
VI. WITH WHAT RESULT? "For a sweet-smelling savor." This phrase is applied to propitiatory as well as to free-will offerings, as, for example, to the burnt offerings of Noah (Genesis 8:21). The sacrifice of Christ was well-pleasing to God, who could henceforth manifest his character "as just, and the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus." The whole passage teaches us:
1. The unsoundness of that theology which sees in the sufferings of Christ, not a propitiatory sacrifice, but the love, faith, and submission of God's Son, as an example to man. This view is altogether one-sided.
2. The unsoundness of that theology which sees in his sufferings a mere exhibition of love, without that element of righteousness which made these sufferings necessary. If love alone could save, why should he have suffered or died at all? It is the atoning love that is the element of consolation to man.
3. The unsoundness of that theology which sees the redeeming power of Christ in his birth rather than in his death, as if the event of Bethlehem were transcendently more important than the event of Golgotha.
4. That there is in Christ's love, not merely a force of argument or motive, but a very rule or measure, of the love which we ought to exercise toward each other in the bonds of the gospel. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.